Wedding Resources

Wedding Attire: Invitations 101

Wedding Attire: 101

Wedding Attire can be confusing, especially when there is very little information available. What exactly should you put on your wedding invitations if you are having a garden wedding? What about a church wedding with an outdoor reception? There are so many combinations of possibilities, we wanted to give you a guide that breaks down the proper attire for each occasion and the best wording for your rehearsal dinner and wedding invitations!

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Wedding Attire Explained for Different Occasions

Formal Wedding

A formal wedding would be an evening wedding with a formal ballroom or elegant reception.

  • White Tie – This is the most formal of all wedding dress codes (think state dinners and the Oscars).
  • Black Tie – This is the next most formal wedding dress code and usually means the wedding is an evening affair (Think Tuxedos and Long Evening Gowns).
  • Formal or Black Tie (Optional) – This is slightly less formal than black tie. This means that a tuxedo isn’t required, but the event is still formal enough for one to be appropriate.

Semi-Formal Wedding

A Semi-Formal wedding would be a late-afternoon/early evening wedding. It could be outside or in a garden. Usually, garden and outside weddings are semi-formal.

  • Cocktail – This is slightly less formal than black tie and black tie optional, which means no tux required for men and no floor-length gown required for women (unless you’d like to wear a long dress). A dark suit would be appropriate for men and a cocktail dress for women.
  • Dressy-Casual – This is slightly less formal than cocktail attire. This can depend heavily on the time of the wedding. Wear darker, more formal colors for an evening wedding; opt for light colors and fabrics for a daytime wedding. A cocktail dress or a dressy skirt and top is suitable for the ladies, while men should wear a suit and tie, dark or light depending on the time of day.

Causal Wedding

Generally, casual means anything goes—but jeans, shorts, and tank tops are not appropriate unless they’re specifically noted on the invitation as acceptable. For the purposes of wedding wear, assume business casual if the invitation says “casual.”


Ultimately, it is up to you as to how you want your guests to be dressed for your wedding day. If you are wanting a formal wedding then go with a black-tie event. If an intimate small garden wedding is more your vibe, then the semi-formal wedding may be a better choice for you! Ultimately, do what you think best fits your wedding style!

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